The NHL has released its plans to finish the 2019-20 season if the league is able to resume play during the coronavirus pandemic.
Commissioner Gary Bettman says the league will go straight into a 24-team playoff format, which will be played in two cities. Bettman added that the cities under consideration to host the games include: Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Vancouver.
The NHLPA resoundingly approved the plan by a 29-2 vote, with only the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes voting against the league’s proposal. The top-four teams in each conference will receive a bye into the first-round of the playoffs, with the teams that finished between fifth and 12th facing off in a best-of-five series in the qualifying round.
With the top 12 teams in each conference moving forward, the Anaheim Ducks’ season is officially over. The Ducks finished five points behind the 12th place Chicago Blackhawks, and will join Buffalo, New Jersey, Los Angeles, San Jose, Ottawa and Detroit in the NHL Draft Lottery, which is scheduled for June 26.
The non-qualifying teams will have weighted odds based on the standings as of March 11. Anaheim will have the fifth-best chances to win the lottery at 8.5%.
2020 NHL Draft Lottery odds.— Everything Hockey (@EHClothing) May 26, 2020
Phase 1 of draft will be on 06/26. pic.twitter.com/9bWmvRTEfl
The eight teams that lose their play-in series will be entered into the lottery as placeholders. If any of those eight squads lands a top=three pick, the league will have a second phase of the lottery when the qualifying round of the playoffs is over.
Bettman added that the first phase of The Return to Play plan will begin in early June, with players reporting to their NHL cities for small group workouts. If it is safe to proceed with the second phase, NHL clubs will hold a three-week training camp in July. The Commissioner said the 2020-21 season could start in late December or early January.
Here are the qualifying round matchups that will be a best-of-five: